Performance Tests

DirectX 9 Gaming

To clarify graph data, all Reference values run with the nVidia 6800 Ultra are in Blue, and Light Blue used for Intel test results with the 6800 Ultra. Single/SLI results with the 6600GT are yellow/gold. Single/SLI results with the 6800GT are orange/red. The range of colors from yellow to red indicate increasing graphics power.

1024 Gaming Performance

1024 Gaming Performance

1024 Gaming Performance

1024 Gaming Performance

1024 Gaming Performance

Even at 1024x768 without the eye candy, we see that SLI improves performance in the latest DirectX 9 games. The sole exception is UT2004, which uses DX9 for output and is not really a true DX9 game.

At 1024x768, the improvements with SLI are not as dramatic as we see with full AA and/or higher graphics resolutions, but they are still significant. In Doom 3, the 2nd 6800GT boosts performance only about 12%, but a second 6600GT kicks performance up to a much more significant 28%. In fact, a pair of $200 6600GT cards in SLI manage to outperform the $500 6800 Ultra in Doom 3.

Aquamark 3 is almost the perfect set of benchmarks to demonstrate the impact of SLI on performance. While the single 6600GT and 6800GT are at the bottom of the chart, 6600GT in SLI again tops the more expensive 6800 Ultra, and the pair of 6800GT cards are the top performer. The same is true of Halo, where the two SLI setups top the charts, even though a pair of 6600GTs is about $400 total.

Far Cry shows the more expected range of SLI performance, where a 6600GT SLI boosts performance 24% to near 6800 Ultra performance levels. The 6800GT shows a much smaller performance increase of 7% going to SLI,since it is a much more powerful card to start with than the 6600 GT and cost about double the 6600GT cost.

At 1024x768, SLI definitely improves performance in the newest and most demanding games, but the biggest SLI improvement is with two of the cheaper 6600GT cards, which see a significant performance boost to 6800 Ultra levels or above in many of our benchmarks.

Test Setup Performance Tests (Continued)
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  • instant - Thursday, February 24, 2005 - link

    You should play games in 3520x1024 resolution with a SLI setup. :-)

    Can you do Multi-Monitor with SLI?
    Reply
  • BenSkywalker - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    "What do you think you are gaining by trying to harass Wes."

    It is not an attempt to harass anyone, it is pointing out A flaw with the review(emphasis on A).

    "Does it make you feel like more of a man to try and point out flaws in his motherboard review?"

    Why on Earth would it? If enough people point out the same issue perhaps it will bring home the fact that the higher resolutions are desireable information.

    "This was NOT an SLI performance review. This was a motherboard review. In all honesty all that needed to be said of SLI in it is "Yup it works on the board" and BAM he has fulfilled his requirements for a motherboard review."

    Not quite. The mobo must be capable of handling the load splitting in terms of the PCI-E lanes properly and there is the risk of issues with particular implementations being less then optimal along with the normal issues of early BIOS headaches that could become apparent for SLI adopters. There are also increased power demands at the highest resolutions.

    "It's fine if you disagree with what he wrote but to say that he wrote a pointless review and then troll and try and take pot shots when he responds is just idiotic."

    Not clarifying my points would be idiotic. Creating a summation of every particular reason why higher resolutions should be tested would run numerous pages, so I hold back and only point out those which I find to be most relevant. If a counter-point is offered then I rebut that issue.

    "There is a reason he gets new hardware first and you well..."

    That reason is he works for AT.

    "If you think you can do better than please by all means start a website."

    I used to handle reviews and other random things for a couple of different sites(mainly GameBasement) but the cost and time put into it wasn't worth it and I certainly wasn't going to go with an ad based site as then your credibility is too frequently in doubt.

    When someone pointed out an element they felt I should have included in a review be it either hardware or software I took the time to add it in every time. If you consider authoring for a review site a service to your readers, then you try to do everything honest and accurate that needs to be done to service the readers.
    Reply
  • Akira1224 - Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - link

    I am going to comment on the article in a moment but first I have to ask Ben a question.

    Ben - What do you think you are gaining by trying to harass Wes. Does it make you feel like more of a man to try and point out flaws in his motherboard review? This was NOT an SLI performance review. This was a motherboard review. In all honesty all that needed to be said of SLI in it is "Yup it works on the board" and BAM he has fulfilled his requirements for a motherboard review. It's fine if you disagree with what he wrote but to say that he wrote a pointless review and then troll and try and take pot shots when he responds is just idiotic. There is a reason he gets new hardware first and you well... don't. If you think you can do better than please by all means start a website. Start the www.benskywalkerhardwaretech.com Be careful with the skywalker name I have a feeling there’s a trademark on it. The bottom line to all this is that he did not include 16X12 because this was not about the cards or the processor. It's about the boards performance. If you want to see extreme resolutions then go check out an SLI vid card roundup. Or write one yourself and let us know the results. Please do us all a favor and stop. You reek of "seventeenism".

    Ok sorry about that. With that said great review. I was hoping to see the board against the Asus board but I imagine that you all will do one once the retail boards hit the market.
    Reply
  • cryptonomicon - Monday, November 29, 2004 - link

    I think we will see plenty of 1600 and 2048 benches in reviews to come. Everyone right now is just going nuts trying to figure out the performance ceiling of SLI with the limited benches run. I'll be waiting patiently for the review of the next NF4 production board :D
    Reply
  • BenSkywalker - Sunday, November 28, 2004 - link

    Wesley-

    "A 19" CRT has a real screen diagonal of about 17". I find 1600x1200 on a 17" display far too small for anyone to really see what 1600X1200 actually adds to the game."

    I would have someone set up a double blind test for you, if you honestly can't see the difference then you should set yourself up an appointment with an optometrist. It sounds as if you have some fairly serious issues with your vision.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, November 28, 2004 - link

    Wesley- any idea if SATA hard-drives limit overclocking on nForce 4 boards, whether using the integrated controller or sockets connected to an additional onboard controller?

    And as the hardware-firewall is one of the features nVidia are pushing in the nForce 4 Pro, it would be nice to have some review coverage of it. All we've had so far is the official nVidia gumf about it.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Sunday, November 28, 2004 - link

    #51 - A 19" CRT has a real screen diagonal of about 17". I find 1600x1200 on a 17" display far too small for anyone to really see what 1600X1200 actually adds to the game. Playing 1600x1200 on a 17" screen is more about bragging rights, IMHO, that it is about visible performance. 1600x1200 is decent on a 21" to 22" CRT, as it is on a 20" LCD. LCD screen sizes are real, so a 20.3" dsiplay is actually a 20.3" diagonal. That 21" to 22" CRT will actually be about the same screen size as a 19" to 20" LCD. Reply
  • SonicIce - Saturday, November 27, 2004 - link

    The best 19" CRT money can buy won't breakmuch more than $300. It would be able to do 1600x1200@85Hz easy. Why would this be uncomfortable or ugly? Reply
  • Executor6 - Saturday, November 27, 2004 - link

    Hey, Anand, are you planning on reviewing that Tyan dual-Opteron SLI motherboard anytime soon? ( http://xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=4... ) The interesting thing about that MB is that both PCIe slots for the graphic cards are 16x, rather than the 8x on regular MBs, hence you would be able to tell if the available bandwidth has any impact on SLI performance. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, November 26, 2004 - link

    A couple of questions about the nForce 4 chipset, not specifically the Gigabyte board:

    Is overclocking limited if SATA hard-drives are used? If so does this only apply when using the SATA sockets off the nForce 4 chip, or also if SATA drives are connected to sockets from an additional onboard controller?

    What are your impressions of the nForce 4 hardware firewall and configuration software? Does it provide all the configuration options you'd find in personal firewalls like ZoneAlarm or Kerio?

    Otherwise a good review. Even though I've got a monitor which can do 2048x1536 @ 85hz and I would run it at that in games with a high-end SLI configuration, those sort of benchmarks (along with 8x AA benchmarking) belong in graphics-card reviews rather than motherboard reviews.
    Reply

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